Robert Louis Stevenson once said: "Everyone lives by selling something." All of us are continuously selling either our products and services, or our ideas. But with the exception of consummate sales professionals, most of us are unaware of the psychology of selling in our daily lives and, it is safe to say, that most of us also cringe at the idea of using selling tactics and techniques that might be considered manipulative. This is, however, shortsighted. Rather than discount this body of knowledge, we simply need to use it with honesty and integrity, not to manipulate, but to win people over.
So, "do no harm" should always be the foundation of any sales approach. With this in mind, here are a few tips for refining your sales approach so that you successfully sell your products, services, or ideas.
1. View each sales approach as an experiment
In This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts To Improve Your Thinking, Roger Schank, psychologist and computer scientist, states that experimentation is something that we all do, in every aspect of our lives. People who "don't see their actions as experiments, and don't know how to reason carefully from data, will continue to learn less well from those who do," Schank says. The scientists' approach of carefully considering the results of an experiment helps them to run the experiment again with better results. The same concept can apply to sales: Careful examination of our sales approach will help us discard what doesn't work and replace it with more effective techniques.
What do you continuously do that doesn't yield results? For example, do you waste precious hours responding to complex RFPs that you intuitively know are a time sink? What is your ROI on cold calling? Have you analyzed how much talking you do in a sales call versus listening?
2. Increase self-awareness
Know how your personality influences your approach to others. For example, if you are highly extroverted, your usual approach might be to secure a face-to-face meeting during which you will cover a wide range of items, discussed from a larger perspective. However, if you are dealing with an introverted client, you may be more successful having a more in-depth discussion with fewer topics. Neither is right or wrong-it simply has to do with preferences.
Develop the ability to adapt your style to the circumstance. Observe and listen carefully to gauge your client's approach. This agility in your sales approach honors your client's needs and helps you be in the moment with that person.